ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13238)

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We have to bring some goodness in our life and we have to invest in the mornings. Rise early and have a strong morning program. Chant good japa. Read more in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Get absorbed and that will drive out this mode of passion and mode of ignorance, which are still sometimes weighing us down and making it hard for us to follow the rules and regulations of Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam: tada rajas-tamo-bhavah kama-lobhadayas ca ye ceta etair anaviddham sthitam sattve prasidati (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.19). In this way, as loving devotional service is fixed in the heart, the influences of the modes of passion and ignorance will disappear and we will be able to follow Krsna consciousness.

But this is also a matter of decision. We can make this decision right now. We can decide that we will follow the four regulative principles now and not allow ourselves to go outside of them anymore. This is our choice. The time is now! Surrender now! Right now! Not tomorrow, “I will be a pure devotee from tomorrow”. No, try to be a pure devotee right now! If we try now to be a pure devotee, we will be pure. And we will become more pure day by day. So surrender now, that is all!

Source: https://www.kksblog.com/2020/01/a-resolution-to-surrender-now/

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By Kadamba Kanana Swami 

The essence of the process that we are following in this movement is the chanting of the holy name. This process is the yuga dharma – the dharma (religion) for this age of Kali. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has made this chanting of the holy name widely available to us and also added his extra mercy. The holy name has been chanted widely throughout the millennia but in this particular millennia, there is the added mercy of the Lord himself. Therefore, now it is very easy and quick for us to chant Krsna’s name and attain the results.
It is described by Rupa Goswami that in other Kali yugas, there are also incarnations of Vishnu who teach harinam sankirtan. But because Vishnu is not the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, he cannot invest the name with the special mercy by which prema (love) is very quickly attained. So in those yugas, the chanting is going on, but it is difficult; the progress is slow. But now, the progress is very quick as the added mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is rapidly invoking Krsna prema.
In the first initiation, the main focus is the holy name – that is the essence! The spiritual master chants on the beads first to invest them with his blessings and the blessings of the entire parampara (disciplic succession), coming from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is then that he invests his special mercy on us. Therefore, even though one has been chanting before, where the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu is still available to all, the spiritual master invokes the entire parampara’s prayers during an initiation, which is very powerful!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=61499

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In Canto Twelve of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhumi, Mother Earth, says this: “Although in the past great men and their descendants have left me, departing from this world in the same helpless way they came into it, even today foolish men are trying to conquer me. For the sake of conquering me, materialistic persons fight one another. Fathers oppose their sons, and brothers fight one another because their hearts are bound to possessing political power. Political leaders challenge one another: ‘All this land is mine! It’s not yours, you fool!’ Thus they attack one another and die.”
On the other hand, those who are enlightened use everything in Krishna’s service, knowing well that the world and everything in it belongs to Him.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=61483

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Although Srila Prabhupada’s health was not strong, he traveled to Allahabad in January of 1977 to preach at the Maha Kumbha Mela festival. Over ten million people were expected to attend the grand spiritual event. At the auspicious astrological time, the pilgrims would bathe in the triveni, the holy confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarsavati rivers. That Srila Prabhupada had chosen to attend this festival in the city where he had lived for many years was an especially significant historical and spiritual event. It was a great benediction to be there.

The early mornings were very cold. In fact, to walk on the sand in bare feet was like walking on ice or snow. The living conditions were austere for everyone, yet Srila Prabhupada stayed in a tent like the rest of the devotees. The electricity kept going off and the situation was less than desirable in many ways, but having Prabhupada’s association turned everything into a positive and wonderful experience for everyone. Nonetheless we were all concerned about Prabhupada’s health.

During the daytime the devotees went out on harinama and book distribution. It was very powerful because we were directly representing our beloved spiritual master who was nearby. Every conceivable tyagi and yogi was present at the mela, and there seemed to be more gurus than followers. But we were serving the supreme guru and acarya in disciplic succession, so we all felt blessed and protected.

Fortunately there were opportunities to enter Prabhupada’s tent and sit near him as he preached to visitors and instructed his disciples. The chance to be there and watch him closely as he interacted with others was priceless. His every word and gesture were divinely eloquent and pure. Millions of pilgrims had traveled from all over India to bathe in the holy rivers, but somehow or other we were sitting at the feet of Krishna’s beloved pure devotee. This was the pinnacle of all auspiciousness. After one such holy darsan, Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant surprised me with the remnants from Prabhupada’s prasadam plate. Although I’m undeserving in every respect, I came to appreciate the true meaning of the phrase “causeless mercy.”

One morning I was asked to collect enough holy water to fill a silver lota for Prabhupada’s bath from the triveni at the most auspicious time of day. It was very cold at that time of the morning and the waters were already filled with so many pilgrims, but it was an opportunity not to be missed and never to be repeated. The nectar was flowing from the heavens above.

Eventually Srila Prabhupada traveled on to Bhubanesvar and then to Mayapur for the annual festival. It was especially sweet that year. One night we all watched a play with Prabhupada in the audience. When Srila Prabhupada laughed, the entire crowd laughed. In fact, I think that we were watching Prabhupada more than we were watching the play onstage. What a joy to be with our spiritual master in such a relaxed and happy setting.

Later Srila Prabhupada went to Bombay. His health had markedly deteriorated by then, so it was a somber occasion. Gradually most devotees were encouraged to return to the West for preaching and other duties. Before leaving I had one last chance to render some service. I was asked to clean the floors in Prabhupada’s room. With bucket and rag in hand, I was so happy and thrilled to be able to offer a menial service while Srila Prabhupada gently rested close by. The next day as I was leaving, I bowed on the road outside the temple compound and prayed. I knew in my heart that it was probably the last time I would ever be in Prabhupada’s physical presence. As I gazed up to Srila Prabhupada’s room, I didn’t want to leave. That deep pain of separation will stay with me forever.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=21706

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In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa describes four kinds of pious men (su-kṛtinaḥ) begin to render devotional service unto Him – the distressed (ārto), the desirer of wealth (arthārthī), the inquisitive,( jijñāsuḥ), and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute (jñānī)’

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha (BG 7.16)

Dhruva Mahārāja was arthārthī Bhakta- desirous of wealth. He wanted a kingdom bigger than his grandfather Lord Brahmā. When he was insulted by his step mother Suruci, the favorite queen of Uttānapāda, he cried and went to his is mother Sunīti who gave him instructions to approach Lord Kṛṣṇa. She said “Lord Kṛṣṇa is so kind to His devotees that if you go to Him, then the combined kindness of millions of mothers like me will be surpassed by His affectionate and tender dealings. When everyone else fails to mitigate ones misery, Kṛṣṇa is able to help the devotee”. With fixed determination as befits a kṣatriya, Dhruva Mahārāja went to forest to seek the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the forest he met Nārada Muni who wanted to test Dhruva’s determination tried to advise him saying that: “My dear boy, you are only a little boy whose attachment is to sports and other frivolities. Why are you so affected by words insulting your honor? In my opinion severe austerities to see Kṛṣṇa face to face are not possible for any ordinary man. It is very difficult to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Executing many types of austerities, many mystic yogīs were unable to find the end of the path of God realization. For this reason, my dear boy, you should not endeavor for this; it will not be successful. It is better that you go home. Unfortunate incident occurred because of your own past deeds. Take it as working of Māyā and also it is Lord Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.” Dhruva Mahārāja replied “With due respect, your instructions are good but I am so ignorant that your philosophy does not touch my heart. All I want is to occupy exalted position greater than even my grandfather Lord Brahmā. If you will oblige, kindly advise me of an honest path to follow by which I can achieve the goal of my life.” Nārada Muni, upon hearing the words of Dhruva Mahārāja, and taking advantage of his determination became very compassionate toward him, and instructed him to go to Madhuvana forest situated on the bank of Yamunā (Kālindī) and to completely absorb himself in devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa, chanting the twelve-syllable mantra ‘Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya’ and worshiping the Lord”. When Dhruva Mahārāja was thus advised by the great sage Nārada, he circumambulated Nārada Muni, his spiritual master, and offered him respectful obeisances and went to Madhuvana. Following the instruction rigidly Dhruva Mahārāja got the audience of Lord Viṣṇu in six months.

Sukadeva Goswami gives similar instructions to Parīkṣit Mahārājathat a person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire ( sakāma) or without any material desire (akāma), or desiring liberation or (mokṣa-kāma), must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead with great expedience (tīvreṇa) (SB 2.3 10). Dhruva Mahārāja was sarva kāma Bhakta. He performed tīvra bhakti. By successfully executing his spiritual master Nārada Muni’s instructions Dhruva Mahārāja saw the Lord (an incarnation known as Pṛśnigarbha) face to face in the same form he was practicing meditation on the Supersoul within himself the plenary portion of Kṛṣṇa as Viṣṇu – with four hands, holding conchshell, wheel, club and lotus flower.

Having darsan of the Lord he paid obeisances falling flat at Lord’s lotus feet. He wanted to greet the Supreme Lord with prayerful words but he hesitated feeling too young and inexperienced to speak eloquently. Understanding Dhruva Mahārāja’s awkwardness Lord touched boy’s forehead with conch shell empowering him to have full awareness of the Absolute Truth. There after Dhruva maharaja instantly thanked Him and understood that Lord’s blessing would grace his words. Thus he offered beautiful prayers. Srila Prabhupāda comments that to glorify or offer prayers unto the Supreme, one needs the Lord’s mercy. One cannot write to glorify the Lord unless one is endowed with His causeless mercy. First he prayed to the Lord that he was satisfied just by having Lord’s darsan: sthānābhilāṣi tapasi sthito ‘haṁ, tvāṁ prāptavān deva-munindra guhyam kācam vicinvann api divya-ratnaṁ, svāmin krtārtho ‘smi varaṁ na yāce

O my Lord, because I was seeking an opulent material position, I was performing severe types of penance and austerity, now I have got You, who are very difficult for the great demigods, saintly persons and kings to attain. I was searching after a piece of a glass, but instead I have found a most valuable jewel. Therefore I am so satisfied that I do not wish to seek any benediction from You. (Nardiya Purana). Dhruva experienced the Lord as the personified form of benediction, by which he could understand the nature of the topmost desire i.e. to become a devotee with no other desire but to please Kṛṣṇa. He came to conclusion that although he had worshiped the Lord to gain material benediction, the worship itself was the greatest benediction. Srila Prabhupada comments: Dhruva Mahārāja was cognizant of the -defective nature of his own devotional service. Such adulterated devotees can never see the Personality of Godhead face to face. He therefore, felt very grateful for the causeless mercy of the Lord. And he prayed for protection from the Lord so that he might not be misled or deviated from the path of devotional service by material desires. Dhruva Mahārāja has realized that serving Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet is much more relish able than the enjoyment of even a hugely opulent kingdom in the material world. So he prays, to Viṣṇu as the protector of one on the devotional path, similar to a cow protecting her calf. And what is Viṣṇu protecting the devotee from? Answer is protection from himself – ‘from his own defective nature’.Dhruva’s last prayer sums up his previous materialistic attitude and his present devotional one: satyāśiṣo hibhagavaḿs tavapāda–padmam āśīs tathānubhajataḥ puruṣārtha–mūrteḥ apy evamaryabhagavānparipātidīnān vāśreva vatsakamanugraha-kātaro ‘smān (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.9.17)

“My Lord, O Supreme Lord, You are the supreme personified form of all benediction. Therefore, for one who abides in Your devotional service with no other desire, worshiping Your lotus feet is better than becoming king and lording it over a kingdom. That is the benediction of worshiping Your lotus feet. To ignorant devotees like me, You are the causelessly merciful maintainer, just like a cow, who takes care of the newly born calf by supplying milk and giving it protection from attack”. This verse is explained by Sridhara Swami as: ‘O Supreme Personality of Godhead (bhagavān) Your form (mūrteḥ) is the Supreme bliss and highest goal of life (puruṣārtha). Your lotus feet (pāda-padmam) are the true benediction (satyāśiṣo) and are a benediction for greater than other benediction (āśīs) such as ruling over a kingdom. This is right conclusion because for the devotees who are worship You (anubhajataḥ) without ulterior motive. You are the highest goal of life. O, Master (arya) even though this is so, You still maintain and protect poor (dīnān) people like us (‘smān). A Kṛṣṇa conscious person can see Kṛṣṇa in the heart of everyone as stated in the smṛti : ātatatvāc ca mātṛtvāc ca ātmā hi paramo hariḥ. The Lord, being the source of all beings, is like the mother and the maintainer. As the mother is neutral to all different kinds of children, the supreme father (or mother) is also. (BG 6.29 Purport)

The Lord is so merciful that not only does He fulfill the desires of a devotee who is driven by ignorance and desires for material benefit, but He also gives such a devotee all protection, just as a cow gives milk to a newly born calf. Lord is bhakta-vatsala. Even Dhruva Mahārāja did not want any Kingdom but any way the Lord awarded Dhruvaloka to him (Lord Pṛśnigarbha had created it for Dhruva maharaja so that he can later reside there). Dhruvaloka — polestar is an eternal Vaikuntha planet, a planet that was never resided upon by any conditioned soul. Even Brahmā, being the topmost living creature within this universe, was not allowed to enter the Dhruvaloka. Not only that but Lord also granted that even before attaining Dhruvaloka he would reign on earth for 36,000 years without aging. The Lord then awarded Dhruva the ability to remember Him fully at the time of his death despite his having ruled as king surrounded by all material opulances for so many years.

Under Nārada Muni’s guidance Dhruva Maharaja has transformed powerful anger to focused determination. Now he reaped the fruit of his devotion (a great kingdom). But he was ashamed of the selfishness that had motivated his worship. The Lord certainly could have immediately taken him back to Godhead but He did not because Dhruva’s desire for revenge and vast material kingdom carried him those benedictions.

Therefore a devotee must be very sincere in his devotional service; then, although there may be many things wrong on the devotee’s part, Kṛṣṇa will guide him and gradually elevate him to the highest position of devotional service. One should simply pray to the Lord to be constantly engaged in His transcendental loving service.

Lord also predicted that Dhruva’s stepmother Suruci would suffer a reaction for her assault and would lose her only son Uttama burnt to death in forest fire. Suruci’s offense to Dhruva was committed before he had attained Lord’s darsan.

Therefore, one should take care when dealing with devotees, even if they do not appear advanced at the moment. It is dangerous to offend or insult a Vaiṣṇava or anyone for that matter.

Lord Kṛṣṇa is so affectionate and kind towards His devotee, especially to a devotee like Dhruva Mahārāja, who went to render devotional service in the forest alone at the age of only five years, that although the motive might be impure, the Lord does not consider the motive; He is concerned with the service. He is ‘bhāva grāhi janārdana’. If a devotee has a particular motive, the Lord directly or indirectly knows it, and therefore He does not leave the devotee’s material desires unfulfilled. When Dhruva Mahārāja became situated on the Vasudeva platform due to seeing the Lord face to face, all his material contamination was cleared. Dhruva Mahārāja regretted very much that he could not take seriously the instruction of his spiritual master Nārada Mini, and that his consciousness was therefore contaminated. He was adamant in asking him for something perishable, namely revenge against his stepmother for her insult, and possession of the kingdom of his father. Still, the Lord is so merciful that due to Dhruva‘s execution of devotional service He offered Dhruva the ultimate Vaiṣṇava goal. Dhruva Mahārāja also prayed to grant him an association of devotees. Srila Prabhupada writes: In other words, every one of us who is engaged in devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should be completely free from all material aspirations. Otherwise we will have to lament like Dhruva Mahārāja. Therefore, Maitreya Muni concludes describing Dhruva Mahārāja’s unique achievement. He characterizes a pure devotee’s equipoised attitude as: “always attached to honey of His lotus feet and says “those who are always attached to the honey of His lotus feet, are always satisfied in serving at the lotus feet of the Lord. In any condition of life, such persons remain satisfied, and thus they never ask the Lord for material prosperity. Srila Prabhupada in his purport elaborates that a devotee is always engaged in drinking the honey from the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord’s feet are compared to the lotus, wherein there is saffron dust. Thus a devotee is always engaged in drinking the honey from the lotus feet of the Lord.

Unless one is freed from all material desires, he cannot actually taste the honey from the Lord’s lotus feet. One has to discharge his devotional duties without being disturbed by the coming and going of material circumstances.

Dhruva Mahārāja felt a deep regret to see how materially motivated he had been. His regret lasted even beyond his audience with Kṛṣṇa. For us we are faulty beings, and it takes time before we learn to offer our service in a pure way. We are not pure; we are defective. What make us so helpless is our misleading desires within our hearts. Despite Kṛṣṇa’s tender concern, He will not interfere with the free will of the living entity. To receive His mercy, we must reveal some level of sincerity or inclination toward Him. Kṛṣṇa provides His children space to grow as they will, yet remains loving towards them and prepared to help if they turn to Him. In Bhagavad Gita He says that He provides the intelligence by which we can return to Him. He also says that He provides what we lack and carries what we have, and that He is swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death. If our main purpose in life is to attain bhakti, we should trust Kṛṣṇa to maintain our attempt.Kṛṣṇa is, after all, the causelessly merciful maintainer, just like a cow who gives milk and protection from attack. Cows are very affectionate, loving and caring to their calves. So much so that cow is prepared to give her life to protect her calf. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa exemplifies this tender concern toward His faltering bhaktas. He offers Himself to His devotees. His real nature is to reciprocate with His devotees. Kṛṣṇa’s supreme quality is His affection for His devotees, bhakta-vātsalya. The word vātsalya comes from vatsa, vatsa means “calf” or “dear child.” In the same way Kṛṣṇa is so loving and caring, so kind and compassionate to His devotees.

Kṛṣṇa maintains as well as fulfills the desires of enumerable materially engrossed jivas. Because He is responsible; He maintains all living entities, although He does it through His expansions and energies. However Kṛṣṇa Himself personally attends to relatively small group of souls who are interested in His direct love and protection. He exemplifies this tender concern toward His faltering bhaktas. That is His real nature to reciprocate with His devotees.

At the same time as the calf remains completely dependent on the mother and follow its mother without regard for where she is going. Then mother in turn shows even more tender concern for her calf. Similarly when we relate to Kṛṣṇa personally we receive His heart, His real nature and His desire to reciprocate with us. The pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ, janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate (CC Madhya 8.70). It can be attained only by paying one price — that is, intense greed to obtain it. tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay. krīyatāṁ yadi kuto ’pi labhyate. Therefore our main purpose in life should be to attain His bhakti. He promises that His devotee will never perish. ‘kaunteya pratijānihi na me bhaktah pranasyati’. He is protector of our Bhakti not our body or our possessions. We can’t make Him our body guard or watchman. We should pray that our bhakti or our attempts to progress in chanting and hearing may not be hampered. Any advancement in KC is Krishna’s gift to us. We should surrender Him whole heartedly knowing that He is our maintainer and protector. raksyati iti visvaso, goptrutve varan. In Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s words firm faith is required. krishna bhakti kaile sarva karma krta haya. By performing devotional service to Krishna all the things will be done automatically. Sometimes His devotee apparently seems to be suffering some misery but devotee considers as Lord’s special mercy for inducing him to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead. Thus the devotee, completely cleansed in heart, becomes fully absorbed in loving service to Kṛṣṇa and in the end returns to Him. He simply awaits the Lord’s mercy. He expects the Lord’s mercy (tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo) and offers obeisances to the Lord with heart, words, and body (hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te). These two processes are so potent that they can bring the devotee back to Godhead. This way we should be exemplary in our behavior. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said ‘dharma-sthāpana-hetu sādhura vyavahāra’ (CC Madhya 17.185 ) -“A devotee’s behavior establishes the true purpose of religious principles. “The behavior of a devotee is the criterion for all other behavior.”

Note: Some of the passages are excerptions taken from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s writings.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=69517

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King Pariksit continued: “The ability to talk can be perfected only by describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord. The ability to work with one’s hands can be successful only when one engages himself in the service of the Lord with those hands. Similarly, one’s mind can be peaceful only when one simply thinks of Krsna in full Krsna consciousness. This does not mean that one has to have very great thinking power: one has to understand simply that Krsna, the Absolute Truth, is all-pervasive by His localized aspect of Paramatma. If one can simply think that Krsna, as Paramatma, is everywhere, even within the atom, then one can perfect the thinking, feeling and willing functions of his mind. The perfect devotee does not see the material world as it appears to material eyes, for he sees everywhere the presence of his worshipable Lord in His Paramatma feature.”

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=67689

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Srila Prabhupada letter to Rayarama, Oct. 22, 1971
My Dear Rayarama,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 11th October 1971 and have noted the contents. I welcome you for your coming back to our society and you are feeling very nicely the association of devotees.
Srila Rupa Goswami has described that devotional service can be advanced by six processes. Perhaps you know them. They are as follows: enthusiasm, patience, conviction, following the regulative principles, being honest in one’s profession, and in the association of devotees.
So this Krishna consciousness society is especially meant for giving people the opportunity to associate with devotees. Devotees means who are following the regulative principles. One cannot be independent and at the same time become a devotee because all devotional activities are based on surrender.
So in the association of devotees we learn this important item—how to surrender, but if we keep our independence and try to become devotees, that is not possible.
You write to say that you cannot feel any taste for temple life or Deity worship. This means you are keeping the same temperament you entertained before leaving our society. Our process is to accept both the lines of bhagavata marga and pancaratriki marga.
Perhaps you might have seen the picture of the Gaudiya mission. On one side there is the bhagavata book and on the other side a picture of Laksmi Narayana for Deity worship. You cannot make any progress in devotional service unless simultaneously you follow both the lines.
Just as the tracks of a railroad line; both must be there. Similarly temple worship is essential for purifying us from the material contamination and without being purified we cannot glorify the Lord.
As it is stated in Bhagavad-gita that the Lord is completely pure and we cannot approach Krishna without being purified. So as you say that you do not feel very much encouraged in Deity worship and temple life, I see that your disease is still continuing. Under the circumstances simple academic career will not help you.
If you want to live with us you must accept temple life, namely cleanly shaven head, observing the regulative principles, decorating the body with tilak, etc. You know all these things.
So far your editorial work is concerned, I welcome your good service but if you do not follow temple life and Deity worship, it will set a bad example. When I was there in N.Y. last time I saw that the tendency was there in the press members not to follow the principles. So I said better to stop the press.
Since then Advaita and the others are attending temple worship. Similarly you must also do the same and chant at least 16 rounds, etc.
I am so glad to learn that you are eager to preach but we should know it that we cannot preach without being solid in our standing as devotee. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that “apani acari prabhu jivare sikhaya.”
This means that Lord Caitanya wanted that one should preach by behaving himself exactly what he preaches.
So our Krsna consciousness movement, preaching, depends on personal behavior. If you want to preach the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ on the principles of Bhagavad-gita you will find so many differences. Those who are following Jesus Christ, let them follow strictly to the principles of the Bible.
“Thou shalt not kill” is now being misinterpreted by Christian priests. Now they say “Thou shall not murder.” This means trying to save themselves from the crime of animal killing. So you cannot teach such unscrupled followers the message of Bhagavad-gita. If you want to preach Bible you can tell them why there will be misinterpretation.
In N.Y. there is a big press that prints “Watchtower.” They are forcefully criticizing Christian behavior. I read that one Christian priest allowed a marriage between two men—homosex. So these things are going on. So your proposal for preaching the gospel on the basis of Bhagavad-gita will not be successful. If you want to do that I cannot check you but I cannot allow you to do such things from within our society. You have to understand our philosophy perfectly, follow the regulative principles, and then in fact you can edit our books and papers.
When I shall go to Mayapura then upon hearing from you of my proposal as mentioned above, I shall arrange for your coming to India. First of all you have to decide yourself whether you are prepared to surrender to our principles, but if you keep your independence either in Mayapura or N.Y., your position is the same.
To associate with me you are always welcome but not with your independence. That will not help me or you.
Hoping this will meet you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=67839

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How many of us are fortunate to have not just good friends, but close friends with whom we can phone at any time, and for no particular reason, than to simply share a Krishna conscious realization?

How many of us are blessed to be able to shed all institutional and scholarly roles, simply to sit down in an informal setting once in a while, and discuss none other than Krishna katha?

Does it ever occur to us sometimes, particularly if we are second initiated, that the services we try to render for Srila Prabhupada’s preaching mission, may appear to be light years away from the deep and esoteric meanings of the Gayatri mantras chanted thrice daily?

In other words, we serve together in association with other devotees, hear class together, eat together, all in a routine and sometimes mechanical way, and learn that perhaps we are not associating closely enough, or not deriving real benefits from vaisnava sanga. It can also be said that one can still feel a sense of loneliness even while mixing with many devotees. It can induce a sense of being there, but not there.

In another way, we can get so absorbed in the formality of service that it seems like a dharmic duty. To do seva in this mood can go in vain: “The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labour if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 1.2.8)

A typical example of this can be experienced whenever there is a festival or a Sunday program at a local temple. We see many old friends and acquaintances, but due to time restraints and the hustle and bustle of the occasion, one can hardly speak meaningful Krishna katha. The talks will more likely be confined to; “How are you, and the family? How’s business?”

Not that this is wrong, but the same hustle and bustle is often carried over into general temple life, or into our service attitude. When new guests arrive they may not always get the attention they deserve, because devotees usually appear to be busy doing something. When deep meaningful relationships are required between devotees, the same routine hustle and bustle can prevent this too, yet devotees are mixing with each other.

“O Narada, I am not in Vaikuntha nor am I in the hearts of the yogis. I remain where My devotees glorify My name, form, qualities and transcendental pastimes.” (Padma Purana)

In such situations it is hardly surprising to discover that many devotees feel somewhat lonely, or are not relating as they should be. The formality of the temple sadhana program, from mangala-artika to japa, to class then prasadam, leaves little room for developing meaningful relationships. And when service begins for the day, there should be more time to foster friendships, but without giving an opportunity to enable this on an informal basis, there is little chance otherwise.

One may object that we have daily Srimad Bhagavatam classes, and those living at home listen to audio lectures, so are these not the times to hear Krishna katha? Or that we have certain seminars and other forums for this purpose, so what is the need for Krishna katha?

Then perhaps we should look at the difference between formal and informal Krishna katha. Formal Krishna katha means there will be one way traffic talk from an elected speaker, with scope for questions and answers. These are certainly very nice, but again, the formality of the occasion may prevent real interaction as one would expect from an informal more intimate forum.

While hearing, eating and serving together on this formal level, it is quite easy to lose track of the disparity of our real objective in Krishna consciousness – to hopefully attain Krishna Prema, and how the mystical power of the Gayatri mantras can enable entrance into the groves of Vraja – as opposed to simply serving in a routine, sometimes mechanical way and not being aware of this disparity.

To be constantly in touch with our sacred objectives we need the association of fellow vaisnavas. Not just token association, or formal association, but deep personal friendships and mentorship from those who have the time and willpower to enable occasional breaks from routine formality. We need to be able, as mentioned earlier, to shed our institutional or scholarly roles and sit together for real shared Krishna katha.

That is, there is no elected speaker, little formality, just simple sharing of realizations of any Krishna conscious topic. This sort of interaction helps to break down our positional blockages and encourages more bonding. We cannot underestimate the power of Krishna katha.

It also helps to keep devotees on track as to why they came to Krishna consciousness, and restores the balance between necessary routine service, and the esoteric objectives of Bhakti-yoga.

It even reduces whatever pride may be lurking that tells us to distance ourselves from others, for such pride causes loneliness, even while living or serving with likeminded devotees. Barring language barriers and obvious age gaps, there can be little excuse to associate correctly with fellow devotees.

We should also be mindful that if we are accustomed to doing everything routinely and formally, it must reflect the way we chant our japa. Perhaps we are chanting japa and treating the Supreme Person – Sri Hari Nama Prabhu – as just a formal routine objective. The fact is, much more can be done for our mission when there is cohesion of interest. Friends are more likely to achieve more as a team for the benefit of a community.

This is not to say to that we must get closer as devotees just for the sake of it. No. Wherever Krishna is, specifically when there is congenial talk about Him, He is an unfathomable treasure meant for sharing between all. The best way to share is through proper Krishna katha. This is the real essence of closeness between devotees. This should be encouraged more often.

Everyone can participate, even those who know everything. The magic ingredient here is humility. If one knows everything one can never be above the need for Krishna katha at any time.

“When there is a congregation of devotees, their discussions, questions and meeting is beneficial for everyone’s real happiness.” (SB 4.22.19)

To be able to say we are there, and there, with a balanced blend of service with shared association, practical and esoteric harmony, the benefits of real Krishna katha is the gel to unite on all fronts. “The discussion of spiritual matters amongst devotees is beneficial for everyone, without exception.” (SB 4.22.19 purport)

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=8444

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3798092906?profile=RESIZE_710xOne disciple of Srila Prabhupada wrote him a letter soon before he left this world saying he wished he could trade his youth for Srila Prabhupada’s old age so Srila Prabhupada could go on preaching. Srila Prabhupada appreciated the disciple’s loving sentiment but said that how much they loved him would be shown by how they cooperate to spread this movement in his absence.

This shows that it is easier to embrace old age and death than it is to give up the false ego.

The Lord not impressed with the Precetas 10,000 years of austerities in the water as much as He was by their friendly cooperation.

So many demons came to Vrindavan but actually, they did not cause as much trouble as Brahma and Indra, the demigods.

In Brhad-Bhagavatamrita, Brahma said although both he and Indra caused distress to Krishna in Vrindavan, he caused more distress by separating Krishna from His devotees, the cowherd boys.

There is an African proverb saying if you want to walk fast, walk alone, but if you want to walk far, walk with others.

Despite being pure devotees and despite being in the presence of Krishna, the Pandavas each had a different idea about what to do with Asvatthama, who had killed their children. So if we are not pure devotees and if Krishna is not personally present it is no wonder that we disagree.

What to do to cooperate better?
At least be friendly to each other.
Engage in the six kinds of loving exchanges.
Each individual must be overcoming their anarthas [unwanted qualities].
Each must understand the importance of the mission.

Fifteen years ago we started having all the brahmacaris eat meals together in the brahmacari ashram, and that act had great impact improving the devotees’ relationships.

It is our job to encourage the other devotees to purify themselves.

Jayananda Prabhu visited a devotee who had left the temple and worked in a butcher shop, and ignoring his blood-stained apron, Jayananda gave him a hug, and that devotee said later that he came back only because of Jayananda’s loving interaction.

There is a German proverb: “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become as he could be.”

Internal discord is our greatest enemy.

Disunity in the leadership is especially bad.

Leadership has to have sensitivity and spirituality in addition to strength. In the Pandavas, Bhima had strength, Yudhisthira had sensitivity, and Arjuna had spirituality.

In leadership in a diverse group, here is a strategy: We have respect everyone. We have to agree on a course of action. We have to cooperate to carry out the action.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=75428

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ISKCON Leadership Sanga 2020

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The ISKCON Leadership Sanga 2020 is almost here – less than two months away!  The event will be held at ISKCON’s headquarters in Sri Dham Mayapur between February 14-20 2020, with 75 unique seminars and discussions, uplifting kirtans, wonderful prasadam, and 45 stalls displaying various projects and services from all over the world. 

The enrollment is still open. 

ILS 2020 promises to be the largest gathering of ISKCON leaders to date. Five hundred devotees attended ILS in 2012 and the numbers have been steadily increasing. This will be ISKCON’s 5th ILS gathering, and the organizers are anticipating 1,500 leading devotees from all over the world. 

The following topics will be discussed and examined at ILS 2020:

  • What are the foundational principles which should form the bedrock of ISKCON’s institution? 
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  • How will we govern, protect and guide our Society as it continues to grow?
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  • How can we meld traditional values and sacred concepts from our Sastra with the need to remain relevant to the ever-changing society we live in?
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  • The new leaders of our movement will come from various walks of life, and multiple global cultures.  How will we synthesize a cohesive and effective way forward?
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  • The need to read and understand the intention behind Srila Prabhupada’s direction is becoming more and more critical. How will we assure that the mood and objectives Srila Prabhupada enunciated in his books is preserved into the future?
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  • How can we build a society that has healthy guru/ disciple, family/social and organizational interactions? 
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  • Our ISKCON has moved from a “temple based” model to include vast numbers of congregation devotees. How will all future members become firmly grounded in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and be able to inspire others to do the same? How will our temples remain vibrant and our Deities properly cared for?

Those who joined Prabhupada’s mission in the 60s and 70s are anxious to see ISKCON’s management and leadership transferred safely into competent hands. This was the message Srila Prabhupada’s gave to his followers when he reached his mid-seventies:

“If you relieve me of the burden of management, that will be a very great service to Krsna and the movement. See that everything is going on nicely. With great endeavor we have made the framework, now we have to see that things are going on nicely…”  Letter to Pusta Krishna Aug. 1976.

Since succession is very much on our minds, ILS is encouraging each devotee who has an interest in ISKCON leadership to take part, whether it be guiding a zone, a country, a temple, a temple department, a farm, a project, or a congregational group.

Registration and further details: https://www.ilsglobal.org/

The cost: $149.00 USD

The dates: February 14-20 2020

The Place:  ISKCON Mayapur Candrodoya Mandir in Sri Dhama Mayapur.

Source: https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-leadership-sanga-2020,7214/

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The Park Bench by Bhaktimarga Swami

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We both sat on the park bench, trying to catch our breath, after having ascended to a higher elevation at Chorley Park.  A former Lieutenant Governor's mansion had been at this spot quite a few  decades ago, but fire hit the building, and thus it is no longer.  Gaura and I enjoyed the scene looking far to the east, and although leaves have abandoned their trees, the sumac bushes near us have held onto their reddish bobs.  It really was a nice view.  

Our minutes there lapsed, and we moved on to right next to the Rosedale United Church.  A handsome structure it is.  
 
"Have you ever been inside?"  Gaura asked.
 
"Yes.  Once when it was raining and I needed shelter."
 
We agreed to check it out, now that it looked like a service was going on.  "We can sit in the back pew and chant some japa," I suggested.  So we did.  
 
An elderly lady smiled and offered us a pamphlet, a welcome gesture.  The minister, a woman, was at the pulpit, in front of a gorgeous stained-glass portrayal of a non-crucified Christ. She was talking about sanctuary—a place of restfulness, a home, a real shelter.  Of course, she was mostly referring to the spiritual comfort that is ours to take advantage of.  

After that segment of the sermon, she encouraged all who sat there to speak to each other about their own experiences of sanctuary.  Gaura and I participated, and then, shortly thereafter, continued our walk back to our mandir, our temple.  It was my turn on the roster to speak to our crowd.  I used the theme of "sanctuary," quoting 18:66 from the Gita.  
 
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There comes a time, sometimes regularly, where we may feel, Oh, Krishna. I can’t do this anymore. This ‘this’ will be different for everyone. It happened to Arjuna in the Gita – he wanted to give up, not to fight, and go off to the forest to be alone. He did not want to deal with people and life’s problems. He told Krishna: I’m not fighting, I can’t do it, I can’t see the point, better if I don’t act and move to the side.

If it can happen to Arjuna, who had everything going for him, including talent, skill, health, family, and especially friendship with Krishna, it can certainly happen to all of us. The struggle for existence, as daily life is described in our teachings, can sometimes just be too much. We will feel like Arjuna and have a desire to give up and go away.

Arjuna was a good person. He did nothing wrong and still he felt despondent. Of course that was connected to him not wanting to do anything wrong; the impending war and killing was something he was having grave doubts about. And he was a warrior! In his blood was the natural desire to protect the innocent and ensure good leadership in the world. Still he was overwhelmed, doubtful, and unsure of his next steps.

Our fight may be with an illness, a slow recovery, mistakes, a sudden death, a mountain of bills or debts, a challenging work environment, tension in relationships, a loss, a failure, a breaking of the law. Or it maybe we see how broken the world is and feel helpless to help. The list is endless.

How to respond to such feelings of inadequacy? How to work through them, gathering our resolve, and moving forward? We need to be able to do this otherwise such feelings will wear away at our energy and we will slowly grind to a halt.

By the end of the Gita, Arjuna has found his understanding, found his sense of self in relationship to the context of his life. Here are three of Krishna’s teachings in the Gita that helped him recover and re-energize:

We have to do something:
We are a soul with a body. One one level, spiritually, we have nothing to do with this world. The soul remains untouched. One another level, while in the body, we are connected to the world and must move within it. We are forced to act, even if all we do is breathe and eat. And every move has an impact on our future – both action and inaction. Be careful Arjuna, Krishna says. Running from difficulty may seem like a good move, but will solve nothing.

Do what we are good at:
Krishna told Arjuna, you are a warrior. To go off and be a renunciate is not your calling. You won’t be able to do it, and it will be neither good for you nor the world. Better do what you are called to do by your natural talents and disposition than trying to avoid your duty because it’s hard. We should try to adopt this mood ourselves. What is our best way to serve, to give, to live in community with others and Krishna? What is our part to play, even though we may sometimes want to be or do something else. We have to find our best fit.

Don’t do it for ourselves, but for Krishna:
Even if we know what to do and it’s what we are good at, we can still feel off center. That’s because life becomes dry if we are only trying to live it for ourselves. Working for others is a step up, but that still wasn’t enough for Arjuna. Ultimately we need to do it for Krishna. Krishna told Arjuna, “Remember Me and fight.”

How can we apply these things? We should think, “I am doing this for Krishna so let me do it in the best way possible.” If I am cooking for friends, let me cook as if it’s for Krishna and make it fabulous. If I am repairing a wall, let me see it as Krishna’s wall and make it perfect. If I am managing, selling, planning, teaching, parenting, drawing, doctoring – whatever – let me do it to the very best of my ability. Let me develop that ability. Let me be and do the best for Krishna.

Arjuna had Krishna in his uncertainty and so do we. With Krishna, we can face anything. And that makes all the difference.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=32678

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By Madhava Smullen

Every year in January, thousands of people set New Year’s Resolutions – but few stick to them once the excitement has worn off.

Vaisesika Das, who is a BBT Director and temple president at ISKCON Silicon Valley in California, knows a lot about setting goals. After he guided all ISKCON North American leaders to set a collective goal, book distribution in the region soared from only $700,000 remitted to the BBT in 2011, to $2.1 million in 2016.

Meanwhile Vaisesika’s temple, ISKCON Silicon Valley (ISV), is one of the most dynamic in ISKCON. One of the reasons is that in early January every year, he holds a meeting with ISV devotees to take them through the process of sharing last year’s successes and challenges, and setting goals for the New Year.

Here, Vaisesika shares why goals are important in Krishna consciousness and in other aspects of life; and how to set your New Year’s Resolution goals effectively in a way that will lead to success.

Why Set Goals?

In his song “Any Road,” George Harrison sings, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” In other words, if you don’t set clear goals, it doesn’t matter what you do – you won’t get anywhere.

In his purport to Bhagavad-gita 2.66, Srila Prabhupada writes, “Disturbance is due to want of an ultimate goal.”

“So I impress upon devotees that it’s really important to have personal goals in various categories,” says Vaisesika. “For instance, if you don’t have a goal for improving your sadhana (personal spiritual practice), then you’ll stay on a plateau.”

What Stops People From Setting Goals?

According to Vaisesika, the five reasons why people don’t set goals are: 1) They haven’t thought clearly about what their life will be like if they actually attain certain goals. 2) They don’t know how effective goal setting is. 3) They don’t know how to set goals. 4) They fear they might fail. And 5) They feel overwhelmed, and think they’re too busy and disorganized to set goals.

However, setting goals can become easier with the following tips:

Write Your Goals Down

There’s a lot of power in just eight words from motivational speaker Jim Rohn: “Decide what you want, and write it down.”

“If you only have goals in your head, they haven’t manifested externally enough to inspire you,” Vaisesika explains. “As soon as you take the time to articulate what you want in writing and put it onto paper, it crosses from the thought world into reality.”

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Keep Your Goals Where You Can See Them

Once you’ve written your goals down, put them in a place where you can see them regularly, and review them often.

“Then your mind gets refocused,” Vaisesika says. “Otherwise, you lose focus and you forget about your goals until it’s too late. Remember – where attention goes, energy flows.”

Break Large Goals Into Smaller Tasks

After writing your goal, break it down into small, easily achievable tasks – and do something towards them on a regular basis, such as weekly or daily.

For example at ISKCON Silicon Valley, to facilitate devotees’ goals to read Srila Prabhupada’s books within a certain period of time, Vaisesika created the smartphone app “Be A Sage Page By Page.” Users can select a scripture from a picker wheel, and the app will show them how many pages to read a day in order to finish the book within a particular duration.

“Many devotees thought finishing the Chaitanya Charitamrita or Srimad-Bhagavatam was unattainable for them; but when they broke it down into small pieces like 5 or 10 pages a day, they became victorious,” Vaisesika says.

Set a 30-Day Goal

Vaisesika highly recommends setting a 30-day goal. “You can tolerate almost anything for thirty days,” he says. “But in that time you can build so much momentum and create transformation in your life. On the other hand, if you say ‘I want to attain this,’ but don’t have an end date, or the end date is too far away, you may become fatigued, get distracted, and give up.”

Smaller time frames also have their uses – you can set fifteen-day goals, one-day goals, or even five-minute goals. “This is very helpful when you’re trying to get out of the mode of ignorance,” Vaisesika grins. “Just say, ‘For the next five minutes, my goal is to –’ and fill in the blank.”

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Share Your Goals With People Close to You

According to Vaisesika, another practice that breeds success is to create accountability by sharing your goals with people that you trust.

Good Japa Is the Foundation For A Successful Life

“At ISV we have what we call a ‘Sacred Japa Circle,’” says Vaisesika. “We emphasize how good japa (meditative chanting on beads) is the foundation for all the rest of our life. If we have good japa, then other things will tend to fall into place more naturally.”

Go to Bed Early and Rise Early

To improve their japa practice, ISV devotees set a goal to go to bed earlier and rise earlier.

“Often people don’t think about it, and just spend an extra half an hour messing around watching Youtube videos,” says Vaisesika. “Then they can’t get up, their japa suffers, and their spiritual life and everything else in their life becomes diminished.”

He adds: “Instead, take rest on time so you can get up and have the time you need in the morning to chant good japa.”

Although rising early is an essential part of spiritual life, it’s also recommended as a method to boost creativity by many personal development teachers. So whatever your goal, setting that alarm clock a bit earlier should be on your list.

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A Healthy “Material” Life is a Support System for Krishna Consciousness

“Our so-called material life is a support system for our Krishna consciousness, and vice versa,” says Vaisesika. “Unless we have two feet on the ground – we feel healthy, are financially sound, we have good relationships – it’s very difficult to have good sadhana. That’s largely what varnashrama is about – making material adjustments so that you can keep your mind concentrated on the ultimate goal of life, which is serving God.”

Thus Vaisesika advises devotees to not only set sadhana goals, but also goals in the categories of physical health, finances, personal improvement and family.

For instance, he recommends that married couples, fellow ashram devotees, or co-workers set specific time aside at least once a month to have a deliberate conversation. “Find out how your partner or colleagues are doing, and what their needs, interests and concerns are, rather than just going on with your daily work and forgetting it.”

Having Goals Makes Life More Exciting

In a December 1972 letter to Karandhara Das, while instructing him how to manage ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada wrote: “Our leaders…. should try always to generate some atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree enthusiastically to rise and meet it.”

“That fresh challenge is what keeps life exciting,” Vaisesika says. “When you always have little challenges to reach, then you know you’re always improving.”

Follow the Example Set By Srila Prabhupada

“Prabhupada, remember, started by setting goals, even before he came to America,” Vaisesika points out. “He drew out elaborate plans. He wrote purposes for ISKCON when he incorporated the society. In the museum of his personal artifacts in Vrindavan, you can still see the little notebook that contains his list of goals for the next months and years, written in his own hand. So he was constantly setting goals, and that’s one of the reasons why he was able to achieve so much.”

Source: https://iskconnews.org/vaisesika-das-shares-tips-on-making-new-years-resolutions,7215/

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A talk by Giriraj Swami on January 2, 2010, Bhaktivedanta Manor, England.

We have gathered at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada in this wonderful temple of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda, Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman, and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, in the presence of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and so many exalted devotees. We are entering the New Year, 2010, and the next decade, and on such occasions we take stock of what and how we did in the previous year and what we want to do in the next. Studies have shown, and probably many of us have experienced, that most New Year’s resolutions are broken during the first week. Still more are broken in the first month, and almost all are broken within the first three months.

Why does this happen, and what can we do? Man is a creature of habit. We have developed certain habits over the past however many years—perhaps lifetimes—and to change our habits requires sincere desire and determined effort. Another study has shown that when a person is trying to develop a new habit, he has to consistently, diligently strive to adhere to the new practice for at least thirty days. After thirty days, he is able to follow more easily but can be derailed by stress or changes in his life. After ninety days it becomes just as easy to follow the new habit as not, and after a year it is easier to follow the new habit than not.

So, what new habits do we want to develop in the next year? That depends on our goals. When I visited Pune some years ago, the Malhotra brothers arranged a program for me in the main hall, and at the end of the talk the general in charge of the Southern Command of the Indian Army asked an important question: “What is the aim for which we are born, what is the aim of our life? It certainly could not be to amass some wealth and ultimately die, or to make a building and then die, or to marry and procreate and then die. For our minor activities in life we have the aims set first, before we get going to achieve them. When we train our people in the army, whatever they have to do we first tell them what the aim is. And once they are clear what the aim is, then we decide what means to adopt to achieve that. And invariably we don’t go wrong. Now here it is—my whole life is going to waste, to my mind; I am still not very clear what is the aim of my life. Would you kindly enlighten us about the aim of life so that thereafter we can be very, very clear as to what we have got to do to achieve that aim?”

Srila Sanatana Gosvami asked the same question of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

“‘ke ami’, ‘kene amaya jare tapa-traya’
iha nahi jani—kemane hita haya

“‘sadhya’-‘sadhana’-tattva puchite na jani
krpa kari’ saba tattva kaha ta’ apani”

“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited? Actually I do not know how to inquire about the goal of life and the process for obtaining it. Being merciful upon me, please explain all these truths.” (Cc Madhya 20.102–103) He said, “In ordinary dealings people consider me to be a learned scholar (pandita), but I am so learned I do not even know who I am. So please tell me who I am and what is the goal of life.” And Lord Chaitanya replied, “By constitution you are an eternal servant of Krishna —jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’—and the goal of life is to be reinstated in your constitutional position as His loving servant.”

If someone understands that he is not the body, that he is the soul within the body, and that his real relationship is not with the body or things related to the body but that as a spiritual soul his real relationship is with the Supreme Soul, then he can adopt the methods that are suitable for reviving his eternal relationship with the Supreme Soul, Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada formed the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to give people this knowledge: We are not the body but the soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. Our real relationship is with Him, and our duty and goal in life, is to revive our eternal loving relationship with Him, with God, Krishna. The whole process of sadhana-bhakti is to help us to awaken that eternal love for God.

nitya-siddha krsna-prema ‘sadhya’ kabhu naya
sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya

“Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens.” (Cc Madhya 22.107) That love is eternally there within the heart, just as fire is within a match. You just have to strike the match and the fire will come out. Similarly, we just have to strike the heart by chanting and hearing about Krishna and that love will come out.

The main process is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. We are in the Hare Krishna temple. (On the way, we saw the sign, “Hare Krishna Temple,” with an arrow.) Somehow, we are part of the Hare Krishna movement, and we are known as Hare Krishna people. We are meant to chant Hare Krishna. And by our chanting Hare Krishna, the mirror of the mind can be cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam), the blazing fire of material existence extinguished (bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam), and ultimately our dormant love for Krishna awakened. Param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam.

But there is also the matter of quality to the chanting. Queen Kunti prays to Lord Krishna,

janmaisvarya-sruta-sribhir
edhamana-madah puman
naivarhaty abhidhatum vai
tvam akincana-gocaram

“Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education, and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.” People on the path of material advancement want good birth (janma), material opulence (aisvarya), material learning (sruta), and physical beauty (sribhih). They cannot feelingly approach the Lord. And when we chant the holy name, we are trying to approach the Lord. The holy name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are the same.

nama cintamanih krsnas
caitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah suddho nitya-mukto
’bhinnatvan nama-naminoh

“The holy name of Krsna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krsna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krsna’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krsna Himself. Since Krsna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krsna’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are identical.” (Padma Purana, Cc Madhya 17.133)

Commenting on Kunti’s prayer, Srila Prabhupada cites scripture, that by uttering the holy name of the Lord even once, one can destroy the reactions to more sins than one is able to commit. “Such is the power of uttering the holy name of the Lord. There is not the least exaggeration in this statement. Actually, the Lord’s holy name has such powerful potency.” We are all suffering because of sinful reactions. If we were freed from sinful reactions, we would no longer have to suffer. As Prabhupada explains, however, “there is a quality to such utterances also. It depends on the quality of feeling. A helpless man can feelingly utter the holy name of the Lord, whereas a man who utters the same holy name in great material satisfaction cannot be so sincere.” Lord Krishna is akincana-gocaram, easily approached by those who are akincana, who have no material possessions.

Now, these statements may give rise to some questions. This word akincana means “without material possessions,” or “without a sense of false proprietorship.” Of course, there should be no duplicity in the matter, but this principle allows us, for example, to have an opulent temple here. We have a beautiful property, a large estate, but as long as we think, “This is Radha-Gokulananda’s property. This is Srila Prabhupada’s property. It is not my property; I am here only to serve them and use this property in their service,” we can be free from false proprietorship, false prestige, and false designations. And in that mood we can chant the holy name with feeling, approach Krishna with feeling. Otherwise, there is a subtle rivalry going on between us and Krishna. We come into the material world out of envy of Krishna. In effect, we want to take His position. We want to be the proprietor and controller and enjoyer (isvaro ’ham aham bhogi), which is actually Krishna’s position. While chanting Krishna’s name, we may be thinking, “Why should I be chanting Krishna’s name? People should be chanting my name. ‘Giriraj Maharaja ki jaya!’ ” That is our sorry plight. We don’t want Krishna to be the center; we want to be the center. So we chant the holy name with ourselves in the foreground and the holy name in the background. That is our tendency as conditioned souls.

The proper process is to chant with attention. We let go of all those thoughts about ourselves—“I” and “me” and “mine”—and focus on the holy name, on Krishna. Those other thoughts are irrelevant. They may come up, but we don’t pay them heed. We just focus our attention on Krishna, on the sound of Krishna’s holy name. And when we do that, we can actually feel His presence. We can appreciate that the holy name is Krishna Himself reciprocating with our sincere desires to serve Him.

This practice requires effort. We are habituated to think that we are the center of existence and that everything revolves around us. We see everything in terms of us, not in terms of Krishna. But our habit can change. There is a saying that up to the age of twenty, you think that people are looking at you and like you, from the age of twenty to forty that they are looking at you and don’t like you, and then, after the age of forty, that they aren’t even looking at you or thinking of you. So, we have to reform this habit of thinking that we’re the center, always thinking about ourselves and thinking that everyone else is thinking about us too. We must know that Krishna is the center.

Once, when I was chanting my rounds at the beach in Carpinteria, I was sitting alone, chanting with attention—making a serious effort to be attentive—somehow thinking of different people who were close to me, and feeling how much they were suffering. I was actually feeling their pain. As I continued chanting, that sense of feeling for others expanded to people who weren’t so close to me, and then to the people on the beach, whom I didn’t even know. There weren’t many, but there were a few people surfing. And I was really feeling their suffering. Srila Prabhupada had joked that the surfers were actually “sufferers,” but I was actually feeling their suffering.

Then the feeling went beyond the human beings. There were pelicans at the beach. They fly very high and then suddenly zoom down and crash into the water. I understood that they were hovering high in the sky looking for prey and that when they saw some potential food they came straight down and crashed into the water. Ordinarily I would think, “Oh, how picturesque—flying so high and then diving into the ocean.” But now I was feeling, “They are in anxiety. They are hungry. They need food and are searching—‘Where is food? Where is food?’ And when they see something and dive straight down and crash into the water, although they are birds, still, coming from that height at that velocity and crashing into the water is bound to be a shock to their system. And they don’t know whether they will actually get that fish or not. And whatever happens, after they come down they go up and start the same process all over again. They are never satisfied—“Now we can just relax.” I was thinking, “What a life, full of anxiety, full of pain”—and feeling it.

And the dolphins and the sandpipers and the seagulls—the same thing. I was feeling so much suffering on all sides. It was as if the illusion of material happiness and charm had been lifted, and this whole beautiful panorama became a horrible scene of intense suffering, which I was feeling. And I was just chanting, chanting, chanting. Then a little lady bug landed on my hand. Growing up, I thought that lady bugs were auspicious and cute. But this time I looked at the lady bug and thought, “This lady bug is suffering”—and, again, feeling it. Looking at the lady bug, I thought, “I don’t think I can take much more of this. I am feeling too much suffering; I am going to have a breakdown.” I wanted to help these creatures. I was feeling their suffering and desiring to help them, but it was getting to be too much.

Then I had the type of breakthrough that one gets when one chants with attention, with the effort to chant with attention. Suddenly I felt as if Krishna were speaking to me, revealing something to me. I got the intuition, or inspiration, in my heart that Krishna loves these creatures more than I do, more than I can even imagine. He loves them so much that He accompanies them as the Supersoul in whatever species of life they enter. And not only does He love them more than I can ever imagine, but He can actually do something to help them. I may feel for them and want to help them, but what is my capacity to help them? I may not even understand what’s troubling them. Parents sometimes experience that their baby is crying and want to help but don’t know what the baby wants. They may think the baby is hungry, but the baby may be troubled by something completely different. Or even if they do understand what is causing the suffering, they may be unable to relieve it.

So, I was thinking, “Not only does Krishna love them, but He can actually do something to help them.” And then I came to the bottom of it. The problem was that I was trying to take the position of Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gita (5.29) Lord Krishna says,

bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
sarva-loka-mahesvaram
suhrdam sarva-bhutanam
jnatva mam santim rcchati

“A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.”

When one recognizes that Krishna is the enjoyer, Krishna is the proprietor, Krishna is the best friend, he attains peace. I thought of what Srila Prabhupada often said, so simple yet profound—that your best friend is not he or she who poses as your best friend but he {or she }who tells you that Krishna is your best friend. Suddenly this whole problem of how to help these suffering souls became very easy. I didn’t have to help them personally; I just had to direct them to Krishna, who could really help them. And it was such a relief.

So this is our mission: to serve Krishna. And serving Krishna means doing what Krishna wants, and Krishna wants that we should bring other souls to Him. As He says at the end of the Bhagavad-gita (18.69), His dearmost servant is he who preaches the message of the Gita. Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah/ bhavita na ca me tasmad anyah priyataro bhuvi: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also said, yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa: “Wherever you go, whomever you meet, just present the message of Krishna.” And that is something any of us can do. It is actually very easy. Any of us can do it.

When devotees, myself among them, first came to Bombay, two of Prabhupada’s early disciples, Syamasundara and Malati, had a small daughter, Sarasvati, who used to approach respectable gentlemen who visited our center. Although only three or four years old, she would approach them and say, “Do you know who is Krishna?” And then she would answer, “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Srila Prabhupada commented, “That is preaching. She is repeating what she has heard from authorities, and even if she doesn’t have full realization, what she is saying is perfect, because she has heard it from authorities— Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” So, any of us can preach. We can simply repeat what we have heard from authorities—“Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” “Chant Hare Krishna and your life will be sublime.” “Come to the Hare Krishna temple.” And that will please Krishna.

I was very happy when I passed through England on my way to South Africa at the end of November and saw all the books around Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasana. I could feel the mood in the atmosphere to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. I felt, “Srila Prabhupada is pleased. They have the spirit to distribute his books.” The books are as potent and effective now as ever. So many people I meet—when I ask them how they came to Krishna consciousness, it goes back to a book. They got a book. The formula that Srila Prabhupada gave us forty years ago still works. By giving them Prabhupada’s books, we are giving them Krishna and Prabhupada, the message of Krishna through Prabhupada, and that is enough to awaken their sense of Krishna consciousness and begin them on the path. Many of us are here because of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

So, we should try to develop the habit of putting Krishna in the center, putting the holy name in the center, putting Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada and their mission in the center, and that will make all the difference. Our spouse can be there, our children can be there, our house can be there, our work can be there—everything can be there—but with Krishna in the center, everything will be beautiful and peaceful. And as long as we persist in habits that may have been with us for many lifetimes—thinking that we are the center, we are the lords, we are the enjoyers, we are the proprietors—there will be so many problems, and in the end whatever we have will be taken away from us anyway.

So it is most auspicious that we are beginning the New Year in the association of devotees here at Bhaktivedanta Manor. My request is that we use this coming year, and this valuable human form of life, for their proper purpose, in Krishna consciousness, and that in this endeavor we help and support each other. We can’t do it alone. And I pray that I can always remain in the association of such wonderful devotees, because I am sure that in this association, hearing their instructions, I will be nudged along on the right path, back home, back to Godhead.

Hare Krishna.

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15304#more-15304

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Happy New Year by Giriraj Swami

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“For us, every day is a New Year. Nava-nava-rasa-dhamany. Our Krishna consciousness is so nice, the more you advance, the more you see new year, new year. That’s all. Nothing is old. People are seeing that ‘They are simply chanting the same old slogan, Hare Krishna.’ But we are feeling new pleasure in every moment. Take any other chanting, you cannot chant more than a few hours. But the Hare Krishna mantra we can chant perpetually. So, unless there is new enlightenment, how we can do that?”

In this conversation in Los Angeles on January 3, 1974, Srila Prabhupada referred to a verse by Sri Yamunacharya:

yad-avadhi mama cetah krsna-padaravinde
nava-nava-rasa-dhamany udyatam rantum asit

“Since my mind has been engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, and I have been enjoying an ever new transcendental taste.”

May you all have a wonderful, Krishna conscious New Year.

Hare Krishna.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=81253

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2515164611?profile=originalIt’s natural to talk about new year’s resolutions. You might be thinking about doing something you’ve put off or making some changes for the new year. You might even be making the same resolutions you made last year at this time. Or maybe you just don’t make them anymore because you never follow through on them anyway.

“There’s hope”

Do You Just Want It or Are You Committed to Get It?

Srila Prabhupada cites Dhruva Maharaja as a perfect example of determination. He says that we should be as determined to be Krsna conscious as Dhruva was to see Krsna. Dhurva was willing to undergo any austerity to see Krsna. We learn from this that there’s a big difference between wanting something and being committed to achieving it. This is the difference between determination in the mode of ignorance and determination in the mode of goodness. In the mode of ignorance determination doesn’t get past the dreaming stage. In the mode of goodness determination is unbreakable and sustained by constant self control.

Have you ever thought it would be nice to achieve something – but then not do much about it? If you have, you probably didn’t achieve it. However, have you ever committed yourself to achieving something no matter what the cost? If you have, it’s likely you succeeded. So if you make a new year’s resolution and are not committed to achieving it, there’s a really good chance you won’t follow though.

There can be many reasons why you wouldn’t commit, but one of the most common is to think you can’t do it. We often tend to minimize our own abilities and thus see many of our goals as difficult or impossible to achieve. Yet it’s more often the case that we are qualified to do it and either we haven’t tried hard enough or we simply haven’t learned how to do it (BTW, successful people as a class are not super talented and don’t have super high IQ’s).

“Determination”

Although there may be many obstacles on the path of the sincere devotee who is preaching the glories of the Lord, such obstacles increase the determination of the devotee. Therefore, according to Srila Jiva Goswami , the continuous obstacles presented by the demigods form a kind of ladder or stairway upon which the devotee steadily progresses back to the kingdom of God.

One of the common factors among very successful people is that they all had tremendous obstacles to overcome. It was the problems they had to overcome that drove them to greater and greater heights.

In 1982 I went to Johannesburg, South Africa to be the temple president. When I first arrived I quickly learned that things had not been going well. It was a constant uphill battle just to keep things from falling apart. After some time I was finding it difficult to maintain my enthusiasm. One devotee suggested that it would be beneficial for me to read the Prabhupada lilamrita. As I read about all the struggles that Prabhupada faced in establishing, maintaining and pushing on Iskcon, I understood that if I allowed myself to become deterred by obstacles I would never be able to achieve anything significant. I then felt strongly that Krsna had put Prabhupada through so many difficulties in order that we have his example before us. Prabhupada faced the greatest challenges. And these challenges simply made him more determined.

How do you react when you are faced with repetitive challenges?

“Walking on the Head of the Obstacle”

In the previous chapter it was explained that although the demigods place obstacles in the path of the Lord’s devotees, by the mercy of the Supreme Lord the devotees are able to place their feet on the head of such obstacles and thus pass beyond them to the supreme destination.

You can tell the caliber of people by the amount of opposition it takes to discourage them. Obstacles will look large or small to you according to whether you are large or small. Did you know that legal immigrants – most of whom have fewer advantages over native-born Americans – are four times more likely to become millionaires? Therefore, we shouldn’t pray that Krsna put smaller obstacles in our way, but we should pray that he give us the strength to overcome the obstacles.

When Prabhupada told devotees how to deal with their problems (which was always to be more Krsna conscious), he would often say, “What is the difficulty?” He meant Krsna consciousness is the easily available solution and the only difficulty is not taking this solution.

“Change Doesn’t Come Easy”

Following through on a resolution usually entails making a change – and change is not always easy. If we don’t like something, we want to change it. The problem is we desire change for everyone other than ourselves! Changing ourselves often entails changing long standing habits, and that can be difficult. Did you know that when Columbus set sail for new lands most people thought the world was flat and that he was going to fall off the end of the planet? Of course that didn’t happen, proving that the world wasn’t really flat. Yet people were so resistant to change that most everyone kept on believing the world was flat while the younger generation was being taught in school that the world is round.

“From the Inside Out”

Unless you make a change within it’s unlikely that you will make a change without. One of the difficulties we face in changing is that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. When you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

“Act like the person you want to become. Before you can do something, you first must be something.” (Goethe)

That can be scary. We tend to cling to what we know, even if we are not satisfied with it. Fear holds us back. Yet the only way to overcome the fear is to go out and do the very thing we are afraid of doing.

If you make new year’s resolutions, realize that you probably desire improvement – yet at the same time resist change. The problem is you cannot get one without having the other. The reality is that change is possible only if you want it bad enough. You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different you would be in the process of changing right now.

“Continually Commit”

One of the most important things to understand is that committing to change is not a one time affair. You must commit continually. I think a lot of us make the mistake of thinking we have committed to something when what we did was make a decision to change or commit, but not a decision to commit daily.

“Focus on Solutions”

If you make a resolution and have trouble following through and then start to become discouraged, you can do one of two things – and the one you choose will color your perspective. You can look to place the blame or you can look at yourself to discover your opportunities. The choice is yours. Life is usually 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. So think what you can do, not what you can’t do. The more you hit roadblocks, the more you need to devise ways to get around them. Keep trying if something doesn’t work.The more you think about solutions, the more solutions you’ll come up with (dadami buddhi yogam tam).

Success is really just the ability to solve problems. Overcoming an obstacle is simply solving a problem. Every person has to face obstacles, make changes, and deal with problems. Successful people are just better than the average person at dealing with the same kinds of problems you and I face everyday.

So if you are dealing with difficult problems, imagine yourself sitting in front of Srila Prabhupada as he instructs you to be more determined to follow Krsna consciousness and then asks you, “What is the difficulty?” That one question can make the biggest problems appear insignificant.

“Exercise”

Here are some questions to answer that will help you move forward.

1) What specifically is holding you back from making or following through on a resolution?

2) What must you do to overcome what’s holding you back?

3) Which of these will you pursue, what will you do, and when (write down on your a calendar or daytimer what you will do and when you will do it)?

4) If you don’t get anywhere, go back to question one.

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Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=5031

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New Year Message By Bhakti Charu Swami

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Dear devotees,
Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
A very happy New Year to all of you!
This celebration marks the end of the present year and entrance to the following one – our entrance to a new cycle of time. Time is like a river, continuously flowing and we all are floating in its current. In this way time takes us through childhood, boyhood, youth and old-age. When we get the human form of life, we are meant to utilize our time in developing our relationship with Krishna, our Supreme Lord and master, dear-most friend and caring father.

Time is an expansion of Balaram, the original spiritual master, whose main business is to take us to Krishna. So, let us flow through the time, especially now that we found our ultimate destination, the lotus feet of Sri Krishna. Let us have the full conviction that if we remain fixed in our goal, then someday, time will take us to that destination. And as we are floating in the current of time through different phases of life let us sing the glory of the Lord and dance in ecstasy for receiving this golden opportunity to reach our ultimate destination.

Thank you very much.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Bhakti Charu Swami

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=34939

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Most resolutions take the form of “do’s”—things I resolve to do—and “don’ts”—things I resolve to not do. And Vedic wisdom tells us that all do’s and don’ts should support one main do—always remember Krishna (God)—and one main don’t—never forget Him.

Now, practically, what can we do to always remember Krishna and never forget Him? The item most favorable for remembering Him is chanting and hearing: chanting and hearing His holy names—the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—and chanting and hearing His transcendental topics—krsna-katha such as the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. And in broad terms, the items most obstructive to remembering Him are mental speculation and sense gratification, especially vicious activities against Vedic principles, or God’s laws—activities that include eating meat, taking intoxicants, engaging in illicit sex, and gambling.

So for our New Year’s resolutions, we can resolve to increase our chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, especially on beads, and our reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books. And we can resolve to decrease, or stop, activities detrimental to Krishna consciousness. And in our efforts, the Lord will help us, for God helps those who help themselves.

We wish you a happy New Year—in Krishna consciousness—by the grace of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.

Hare Krishna.

——

Thoughts for the New Year
A Talk by Giriraj Swami
January 2, 2010
Bhaktivedanta Manor
England

We have gathered at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada in this wonderful temple of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda, Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman, and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, in the presence of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and so many exalted devotees. We are entering the New Year, 2010, and the next decade, and on such occasions we take stock of what and how we did in the last year and what we want to do in the next. Studies have shown, and probably many of us have experienced, that most New Year’s resolutions are broken during the first week [laughter]. Still more are broken in the first month, and almost all are broken within the first three months.

Why does this happen, and what can we do? Man is a creature of habit. We have developed certain habits over the last however many years—perhaps lifetimes—and to change our habits requires sincere desire and determined effort. Another study has shown that when one is trying to develop a new habit he has to consistently, diligently strive to adhere to the new practice for at least thirty days. After thirty days, he is able to follow more easily but can be derailed by stress or changes in his life. After ninety days it becomes just as easy to follow the new habit as not, and after a year it is easier to follow the new habit than not.

Now, what new habits will we want to develop in the next year? That will depend on our goals. When I visited Pune some years ago, the Malhotra brothers arranged a program for me in the main hall, and at the end of the talk the general in charge of the Southern Command of the Indian Army asked an important question: “What is the aim for which we are born, what is the aim of our life? It certainly could not be to amass some wealth and ultimately die, or to make a building and then die, or to marry and procreate and then die. For our minor activities in life we have the aims set first, before we get going to achieve them. When we train our people in the army, whatever they have to do we first tell them what the aim is. And once they are clear what the aim is, then we decide what means to adopt to achieve that. And invariably we don’t go wrong. Now here it is—my whole life is going to waste, to my mind; I am still not very clear what is the aim of my life. Would you kindly enlighten us about the aim of life so that thereafter we can be very, very clear as to what we have got to do to achieve that aim?”

Srila Sanatana Gosvami asked the same question of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu:

“‘ke ami’, ‘kene amaya jare tapa-traya’
iha nahi jani—kemane hita haya

“‘sadhya’-‘sadhana’-tattva puchite na jani
krpa kari’ saba tattva kaha ta’ apani”

“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited? Actually I do not know how to inquire about the goal of life and the process for obtaining it. Being merciful upon me, please explain all these truths.” (Cc Madhya 20.102–103) He said, “In ordinary dealings people consider me to be a learned scholar (pandita), but I am so learned I do not even know who I am. So please tell me who I am and what is the goal of life.” And Lord Caitanya replied, “By constitution you are an eternal servant of Krsna—jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’—and the goal of life is to be reinstated in your constitutional position as His loving servant.”

Now, if someone understands that he is not the body, that he is the soul within the body, and that his real relationship is not with the body or things related to the body but that as a spiritual soul his real relationship is with the Supreme Soul, then he can adopt the methods that are suitable for reviving his eternal relationship with the Supreme Soul, Krsna.

Srila Prabhupada formed the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to give people this knowledge: We are not the body but the soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. Our real relationship is with Him, and our duty and goal in life is to revive our eternal loving relationship with Him, with God, Krsna. The whole process of sadhana-bhakti is to help us to awaken that eternal love for God.

nitya-siddha krsna-prema ‘sadhya’ kabhu naya
sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya

“Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens.” (Cc Madhya 22.107) That love is eternally there within the heart, just as fire is within a match. You just have to strike the match and the fire will come out. Similarly, we just have to strike the heart by chanting and hearing about Krsna and that love will come out.

The main process is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. We are in the Hare Krsna temple. (On the way we saw the sign, “Hare Krishna Temple,” with an arrow.) Somehow, we are part of the Hare Krsna movement, and we are known as Hare Krsna people. We are meant to chant Hare Krsna. And by our chanting Hare Krsna, the mirror of the mind can be cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam), the blazing fire of material existence extinguished (bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam), and ultimately our dormant love for Krsna awakened. Param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam.

But there is also the matter of quality to the chanting. Queen Kunti prays to Lord Krsna,

janmaisvarya-sruta-sribhir
edhamana-madah puman
naivarhaty abhidhatum vai
tvam akincana-gocaram

“Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education, and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.” People on the path of material advancement want good birth (janma), material opulence (aisvarya), material learning (sruta), and physical beauty (sribhih). They cannot feelingly approach the Lord. And when we chant the holy name, we are trying to approach the Lord. The holy name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are the same.

nama cintamanih krsnas
caitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah suddho nitya-mukto
’bhinnatvan nama-naminoh

“The holy name of Krsna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krsna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krsna’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krsna Himself. Since Krsna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krsna’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are identical.” (Padma Purana, Cc Madhya 17.133)

Commenting on Kunti’s prayer, Srila Prabhupada cites scripture, that by uttering the holy name of the Lord even once, one can destroy the reactions to more sins than one is able to commit. “Such is the power of uttering the holy name of the Lord. There is not the least exaggeration in this statement. Actually, the Lord’s holy name has such powerful potency.” We are all suffering because of sinful reactions. But if we were freed from sinful reactions, we would no longer have to suffer. As Prabhupada explains, however, “there is a quality to such utterances also. It depends on the quality of feeling. A helpless man can feelingly utter the holy name of the Lord, whereas a man who utters the same holy name in great material satisfaction cannot be so sincere.” Lord Krsna is akincana-gocaram, easily approached by those who are akincana, who have no material possessions.

Now, these statements may give rise to some questions. This word akincana means “without material possessions,” or “without a sense of false proprietorship.” Of course, there should be no duplicity in the matter, but this principle allows us, for example, to have an opulent temple here. We have a beautiful property, a large estate, but as long as we think, “This is Radha-Gokulananda’s property. This is Srila Prabhupada’s property. It is not my property. I am here only to serve them and use this property in their service,” we can be free from false proprietorship, false prestige, and false designations. And in that mood we can chant the holy name with feeling, approach Krsna with feeling. Otherwise there is a subtle rivalry going on between us and Krsna. We come into the material world out of envy of Krsna. In effect we want to take His position. We want to be the proprietor and controller and enjoyer (isvaro ’ham aham bhogi), which is actually Krsna’s position. While chanting Krsna’s name, we may be thinking, “Why should I be chanting Krsna’s name? People should be chanting my name. Giriraj Maharaja ki jaya!” [laughter] That is our sorry plight. We don’t want Krsna to be the center; we want to be the center. So we chant the holy name with ourselves in the foreground and the holy name in the background. That is our tendency as conditioned souls.

The proper process is to chant with attention. We let go of all those thoughts about ourselves—“I” and “me” and “mine”—and focus on the holy name, on Krsna. Those other thoughts are irrelevant. They may come up, but we don’t pay them heed. We just focus our attention on Krsna, on the sound of Krsna’s holy name. And when we do that, we can actually feel Krsna’s presence. We can appreciate that the holy name is Krsna Himself reciprocating with our sincere desires to serve Him.

This practice requires effort. We are habituated to think that we are the center of existence and that everything revolves around us. We see everything in terms of us, not in terms of Krsna. But our habit can change. There is a saying that up to the age of twenty, you think that people are looking at you and like you, from the age of twenty to forty that they are looking at you and don’t like you, and then, after the age of forty, that they aren’t even looking at you or thinking of you. [laughter] So we have to reform this habit of thinking that we’re the center, always thinking about ourselves and thinking that everyone else is thinking about us too. We must know that Krsna is the center.

Once, when I was chanting my rounds at the beach in Carpinteria, I was sitting alone, chanting with attention—making a serious effort to be attentive—somehow thinking of different people who were close to me, and feeling how much they were suffering. I was actually feeling their pain. As I continued chanting, that sense of feeling for others expanded to people who weren’t so close to me and then to the people on the beach, whom I didn’t even know. There weren’t many, but there were a few people surfing. And I was really feeling their suffering. Srila Prabhupada had joked that the surfers were actually “sufferers” [laughter], but I was actually feeling their suffering.

Then the feeling went beyond the human beings. There were pelicans at the beach. They fly very high and then suddenly zoom down and crash into the water. I understood that they were hovering high in the sky looking for prey and that when they saw some potential food they came straight down and crashed into the water. Ordinarily I would think, “Oh, how picturesque—flying so high and then diving into the ocean.” But now I was feeling, “They are in anxiety. They are hungry. They need food and are searching, ‘Where is food? Where is food?’ And when they see something and dive straight down and crash into the water, although they are birds, still, coming from that height at that velocity and crashing into the water is bound to be a shock to their system. And they don’t know whether they will actually get that fish or not. And whatever happens, after they come down they go up and start the same process all over again. They are never satisfied, “Now we can just relax.” I was thinking, “What a life, full of anxiety, full of pain,” and feeling it.

And the dolphins and the sandpipers and the seagulls—the same thing. I was feeling so much suffering on all sides. It was as if the illusion of material happiness and charm had been lifted, and this whole beautiful panorama became a horrible scene of intense suffering, which I was feeling. And I was just chanting, chanting, chanting. Then a little lady bug landed on my hand. Growing up, I thought that lady bugs were auspicious and cute. But this time I looked at the lady bug and thought, “This lady bug is suffering,” and feeling it. Looking at the lady bug, I thought, “I don’t think I can take much more of this. I am going to have a breakdown. I am feeling too much suffering.” I wanted to help these creatures. I was feeling their suffering and desiring to help them, but it was getting to be too much.

Then I had the type of breakthrough that one gets when one chants with attention, with the effort to chant with attention. Suddenly I felt as if Krsna were speaking to me, revealing something to me. I got the intuition or inspiration in my heart that Krsna loved these creatures more than I did, more than I could even imagine. He loves them so much that He accompanies them as the Supersoul in whatever species of life they enter. And not only does He love them more than I can ever imagine, but He can actually do something to help them. I may feel for them and want to help them, but what is my capacity to help them? I may not even understand what’s troubling them. Parents experience that their baby is crying and they want to help but they don’t know what the baby wants. They may think the baby is hungry, but the baby may be troubled by something completely different. Or even if they do understand what is causing the suffering, they may be unable to relieve it.

So, I was thinking, “Not only does Krsna love them, but He can actually do something to help them. What can I do?” And then I came to the bottom of it. The problem was that I was trying to take the position of Krsna. In the Bhagavad-gita (5.29) Lord Krsna says,

bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
sarva-loka-mahesvaram
suhrdam sarva-bhutanam
jnatva mam santim rcchati

“A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.”

When one recognizes that Krsna is the enjoyer, Krsna is the proprietor, and Krsna is the best friend, he attains peace. I thought of what Srila Prabhupada often said, so simple yet profound, that your best friend is not he one who poses as your best friend but he who tells you that Krsna is your best friend. Suddenly this whole problem of how to help these suffering souls became very easy. I didn’t have to help them personally; I just had to direct them to Krsna, who could really help them. And it was such a relief.

So this is our mission, to serve Krsna. And serving Krsna means doing what Krsna wants, and Krsna wants that we should bring other souls to Him. As He says at the end of the Bhagavad-gita (18.69), His dearmost servant is he who preaches the message of the Gita. Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah/ bhavita na ca me tasmad anyah priyataro bhuvi: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu also said, yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa: “Wherever you go, whomever you meet, just present the message of Krsna.” And that is something any of us can do. It is actually very easy. Any of us can do it.

When we first came to Bombay, two of Prabhupada’s early disciples, Syamasundara and Malati, had a small daughter, Sarasvati, who used to approach respectable gentlemen who visited our center, which was in a posh area. Although only three or four years old, she would approach them and say, “Do you know who is Krsna?” And then she would answer, “Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” And Srila Prabhupada commented, “That is preaching. She is repeating what she has heard from authorities, and even if she doesn’t have full realization, what she is saying is perfect, because she has heard it from authorities—Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” So any of us can preach. We can simply repeat what we have heard from authorities—“Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” “Chant Hare Krsna and your life will be sublime.” “Come to the Hare Krsna temple.” And that will please Krsna.

I was very happy when I passed through England on my way to South Africa at the end of November and saw all the books around Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasana. I could feel the mood in the atmosphere to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. I felt, “Srila Prabhupada is pleased. They have the spirit to distribute his books.” And the books are as potent and effective now as ever. So many people I meet—when I ask them how they came to Krsna consciousness, it goes back to a book. They got a book. The formula that Srila Prabhupada gave us forty years ago still works. By giving them Prabhupada’s books, we are giving them Krsna and Prabhupada, the message of Krsna through Prabhupada, and that is enough to awaken their sense of Krsna consciousness and begin them on the path. Many of us are here because of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

So, we should try to develop the habit of putting Krsna in the center, putting the holy name in the center, putting Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada and their mission in the center, and that will make all the difference. Our spouse can be there, our children can be there, our house can be there, our work can be there, everything can be there, but with Krsna in the center, everything will be beautiful and peaceful. And as long as we persist in that habit that’s probably been with us for many lifetimes—thinking that we are the center, we are the lords, we are the enjoyers, we are the proprietors—there will be so many problems, and in the end whatever we have will be taken away from us anyway.

So it is most auspicious that we are beginning the New Year in the association of devotees here at Bhaktivedanta Manor. My request is that we use this year, this valuable human form of life in the coming year, for its proper purpose, in Krsna consciousness, and that in this endeavor we help and support each other. We can’t do it alone. And I pray that I can always remain in the association of such wonderful devotees, because I am sure in this association, hearing their instructions, I will be nudged along on the right path, back home, back to Godhead.

Hare Krsna.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10178

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New Year’s Resolutions By Mahatma das

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How to Change this Year? You Need to Freak Out!

Our cultural conditioning tells us we should make resolutions for the new year. Of course, the perennial problem is that most of us haven’t followed through on our previous year’s resolutions. And it can even get depressing to think about how many times this has happened. So maybe it is better we don’t make any resolutions this year. This way we’ll have nothing to lament about in early February when we haven’t followed through.

Well, actually I think it’s a better idea to understand why we don’t follow through on our resolutions, since I doubt that we will ever lose the tendency to want to change things about ourselves and our lives that aren’t working well for us. So the important question is, “How do we permanently change our actions?”

It is said everyone wants to see change in others and the world; but nobody wants to change themselves. Why? Because it is difficult and uncomfortable. It seems easier to keep the status quo, even if the status quo is less than desirable.

The secret to change is to understand the process Krsna uses to change people and then willingly apply this process on ourselves. So how does He do it? Before I answer this question I would like to ask you to think about a time you changed something in your life. What caused you to change?

Next, think about something you told yourself you would change and never followed through on.

Herein lies the answer to change.

We change when we have to, either to survive, to prevent ourselves from extreme distress, or when we are really sick and tired of something in our life that we just can’t tolerate anymore. And we normally don’t change, even when we want to, when the above conditions are absent (unless, of course, someone is forcing us to change and making our lives miserable if we don’t, which is really a nuance of the same principle: we don’t change when we see the light, we change when we feel the heat).

Before I reveal the simple open secret Krsna uses and how we can personally apply it in our lives, we first must acknowledge that there are many things in our lives we have the power to change: our sadhana, relationships, health, abilities, or level of success, to name just a few.

But when does the change actually take place? We change when we make the decision that, “I have had enough, I must change.” If there is something we don’t change that we could change, then we need to acknowledge that we are deciding that changing is more painful than leaving things as is.

It is important to mention here that there are many more things we can change than we are willing to admit. Once we stop blaming others or situations for our shortcomings, it becomes clear that not changing is a choice to keep the status quo – which, of course, might be rooted in a belief that this is just the way I am. Anyway, no matter who you are, you can always be a better version of you.

In most cases, not changing is actually more painful than changing. But how do we realize this? Focus on results you are getting that you don’t want and the actions producing these. Then ask yourself this question: If I don’t change _____________ (fill in the blanks of a behavior or a result of a behavior you getting), then in ten years (when you are still reaping the negative results of not changing this behaviorv, belief, attitude, habit, etc.) how will you feel? Does thinking about living the rest of your life with the particular disability, belief system, fear, lack of self-confidence, inhibition, lack of relationship skills, level of health, finances, success, sadhana, service, etc. totally freak you out?

If not, keep meditating on it until it does! This is the key to change. Our present circumstances (which are caused by the behavior you need to change) have to become intolerable to us. If they are not, our efforts to change will fail. We will still be okay with how things are. 
“Okay” is really the enemy.

If you actually allow yourself to deeply meditate on this question, and allow yourself to feel the discomfort of answering the question, it can be powerful. Because until you say “I have had it” you probably will opt for the pain of continuing to not achieve the results and changes you need in exchange for experiencing the pain of not changing.

How can I says this? I have changed things in my life that were extremely difficult for me to change, some actions and thinking which I felt were wired to my nature. But living with the results year in and year out made life so unpleasant that one day I said, “That’s it!”

Sometimes it took me decades to come to this point.

I have seen people at japa retreats say “That’s it” about bad japa. In fact, if they don’t say this, they tend to eventually default to the bad habits they had before they came to the retreat. We can apply this principle to our service, marriage, finances, etc. As long as we are okay with okay we won’t change, because we won’t need to. When we are no longer okay with okay japa, an okay marriage, an okay sadhana, okay service, okay financial situation, etc. we will change.

The point is this: Resolutions must be goals connected with deep seeded needs to change. When the “I should” becomes “I must,” then we will change.

And this is exactly how Krsna helps us become Krsna conscious. When we hit dead ends in our lives and the walls close in on us, we have to act differently. It is discomfort which moves us into different ways of thinking, being and acting. And when we act differently, we get different results. We can’t change by knowing we need to change, we change by acting differently. As long as we continue to act the way we always have, no amount of knowledge not acted up will change anything in our lives (other than maybe we can give some good lectures on how to change!)

Patanjali writes in the Yoga Sutras that attachment arises from remembering past pleasant activities. As we remember the pleasure of these activities, we become attached to doing them again. Detachment works in a similar way: we remember the pain of past activities and we thus detach from them. If your brain links pain with activity in the past, as well as in the present and the future (if I do that I will suffer) , you will give it up. It then becomes a neural response because you feel the pain in your nervous system. It is no longer information; you simply can’t act that way again.

We have often heard it said that we don’t really believe that material life and the material world is that bad, for if we did we would be completely surrendered. But we know the material world cannot satisfy us. This is why we became devotees. So, why are we still attached? It is because the conviction is only in our minds, not in our nervous system, not on the gut level where we look at an activity and say, That would be so painful that I could never do that again.”

So if you want to make a resolution for this year, you will need to associate so much pain with not following through that there will be no other option than to do it. This is how Krsna brought us to Krsna consciousness, and this is how Arjuna became Krsna consciousness. Using this same process we can make resolutions we actually follow through on.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=23163

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